Public Outcry Forces King Willem-Alexander of Netherlands to 'Abort' Greece Vacation After One Day
King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands is regretting his choice of fall vacation.
The 53-year-old Dutch monarch and his wife Queen Maxima, 49, have been forced to return from their holiday villa in Greece after being out of the country for just one day.
Their trip, which started on Friday and ended in disgrace on Saturday, caused an uproar in The Netherlands as it came just three days after the Dutch government advised locals to spend the fall vacations at home to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“We will abort our vacation," a statement posted on behalf of King Willem and Queen Maxima said Friday, shortly after the public became aware of the royal vacation.
"We see people's reactions to media reports. And they are intense, and they affect us," he added.
"We do not want to leave any doubts about it: in order to get the COVID19 virus under control, it is necessary that the guidelines are followed. The discussion following our vacation does not contribute to that."
The royal family's decision to fly out of the country with daughters Princess Catharina, 16, Princess Alexia, 15, and Princess Ariane, 13, — who recently returned to school — has also caused deep embarrassment for Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
As the head of the Dutch government, he is responsible for assessing whether the royal family's private trips abroad are in the public interest.
In a letter to the Dutch parliament on Sunday, Rutte said that while he was aware of the king's vacation plans he "realized too late" that they didn't match up with the recent tightening of the country's COVID-19 measures, reports Dutch public broadcaster NOS.
"This should have prompted me to reconsider the intended holiday," he added.
This is the second time this year that a Greek holiday has caused problems for King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima.
In August, they were forced to apologize after a photo emerged of them ignoring social distancing rules and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a restaurant owner on the Greek island of Milos.
"A photo appeared in the media in which we don't keep enough distance," the King and Queen posted on Twitter.
"In the spontaneity of the moment, we did not pay enough attention to that," they added. "Of course we should have. Because compliance with corona rules is also essential on vacations to get the virus under control' -WA & Máxima."